Power trio gets a warm reception from Heat fans

2010-07-10 09:24

LeBron James never had 24 hours quite like this.

The decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. The bitter letter from

his former owner. The arrival. The celebration. All filled with drama, all

representing a new chapter for the two-time NBA most valuable player.

“I understand now that I’ve made the right decision,” James


A packed arena of Miami Heat fans, plus 10 000 or so outside the

building, couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear James say those words.

His acquisition by the Heat became official last night, not long

after he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – the NBA’s newest superstar trio – arrived

together in a spectacle typically reserved for rock concerts and award


Dressed in a white Heat uniform for the first time, James took a

look at his new home crowd, folded his arms across his chest after he and his

team-mates were dropped from the sky on a forklift, and nodded.

The Most Valuable Professional has taken centre stage in


“We know what the fans want,” James said.

In case there was any doubt, they told him: A “Beat LA” chant broke

out in July, call it an opening salvo aimed at the two-time defending champion


“It’s still surreal, man,” Wade said. “Me, Chris and ’Bron. We

ready. We want to go to the gym now.”

Wade was in the middle as the trio was lifted skyward for the

entrance – Bosh on his right, James on his left. Bosh pointed to the fans and

screamed, while Wade aimed his index fingers at the crowd and James strutted

about to the fans’ delight.

They walked down the stairs to a long runway, slapping high-fives

with fans, clapping their hands and soaking in the atmosphere.

“We wanted to come here, then LeBron wanted to come,” Bosh said.

“Let’s get it done, man. Let’s get this thing going.”

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Heat continued working on

sign-and-trade deals for both players, which were completed long after the event

ended, around 11p.m. The Heat sent two future first-round and two second-round

picks to the Cavaliers for James, while packaging two first-round picks to the

Raptors for Bosh.

Next up for Miami: Deals for Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, both

expected to be done in the coming days, and a planned meeting with Lakers point

guard Derek Fisher.

“We here now,” James said. “And we’re here for a long time.”

Wade, Bosh and James all signed their six-year contracts earlier

last night, each set to make about $2 million less than the $16.6 million they

could have demanded for the coming season.

“They’re going to be here for a while,” Heat president Pat Riley

said, adding, “all three of these gentlemen up here are going to be here for a

long time and they’re going to be here for a long time for us to enjoy,

thoroughly enjoy”.

The past 24 hours, though, were not ones James could enjoy.

He said he anguished over the decision to leave Cleveland, which

sparked a level of outrage he didn’t even expect.

Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert called James’ choice a

“cowardly betrayal” and issued this statement: “ I PERSONALLY




“I feel great now,” James said. “The fans and this organisation

have put me back in a family-oriented place.”

At the rally, which was announced yesterday afternoon as people

snatched up all 13 000 available seats in an hour, fans were given posters with

James, Wade and Bosh together in Heat uniforms. “Yes. We. Did,” was the slogan

in big white letters.

If Riley gets his way, the party will be the first of many for the

NBA’s newest star cluster – a grouping everyone, even Wade, is still getting

used to.

“When I look around and see No 6 and No 1 on the court with me,

that’s when it’s going to see real,” Wade said.

James will wear No 6 in Miami, Bosh No 1, both having switched

their numbers. Wade considered swapping his No 3 as well.

“Then I realised, three is magical, and now it represents more than

just my number,” Wade said. “It represents the three of us making sacrifices as


Wade and Bosh decided on Tuesday that they would play together in

Miami, releasing that information to the world on Wednesday. With that, it was

all up to James, who said he decided on Thursday morning – hours before his

made-for-TV announcement special that night – that he’d join the Heat and form a

power triple.

James touched down on yesterday morning, took his physical, and

then arrived for the party.

Expectations couldn’t be higher, and James, Wade and Bosh all

accepted the challenge.

“Bring it on. We’ll accept it,” Wade said. “At the end of the day,

we know what’s important. And what’s important is winning ball games and winning

championships. So once you do that, winner takes all.”

Yesterday in Miami, the scene was sheer bliss.

James’ jerseys weren’t even going on hangers inside the Miami team

store. For the most part, they were getting sold as soon as they could be taken

out of the box.

A line of fans snaked around the arena on a steamy morning just to

put their names on a waiting list for tickets.

The switchboard at American Airlines Arena was overwhelmed for much

of the day, and the seats for the welcoming bash were made available online at

4pm – and were gone in an hour.

“The road to history starts now,” James wrote early yesterday on


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